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Should I use stiff skis or soft skis in soft snow conditions? Yes!

Tue, Feb  7, 2017 - By Toko

When new snow is soft and dry, soft skis are generally very good. However when the new snow is wet and soft, there are other considerations to take into account. In soft new wet snow, two major considerations are flotation and moisture management.

In new soft snow, when a person pushes off (skating), it is common for the skis to sink into the snow creating a braking effect and a huge energy loss. Using a stiffer ski (or at least avoiding a soft ski) minimizes this issue because it provides a stronger and wider platform that is less likely to sink and result in energy and speed loss.

Unless new snow has a strong glaze or a strong moisture film on top, it is very sensitive to structure (especially in the mountain west). We have had this snow all winter and have gained a lot of experience with it. In addition to by using structure, moisture can also be managed by using a very hydrophobic wax (HF, JetStream, and HelX) and also a stiffer ski which reduces contact of the base on the snow. For this reason in these conditions, a ski with more camber was advantageous.

At the Boulder Mountain Tour (which received a foot of wet snow overnight), I saw many people doing glide outs next to one another while tucking. In this deep loose new snow, this is not an effective way of comparing skis because the stiffer ski will almost certainly be much better when the camber is being worked (while skiing and pushing off). A softer ski would probably have been close in its gliding properties, but overall would have been poor comparatively.